When you have a baby who is not sleeping well, a feeling of panic and desperation can set in. I remember with my first wondering if I would ever sleep again. I even wondered if I would be able to get ready and take a shower during my baby years. Would I ever be able to do something without holding a baby for more than 20 minutes again?
Sleep is vital for mothers and babies alike. While even the best sleeper will disrupt mom's sleep for a time, a baby can learn to sleep well for nights and naps. Here are five ways to get your baby sleeping.
Follow On Becoming Babywise
This post could really start and end with the statement to follow On Becoming Babywise. The book walks you through how to get baby sleeping. Reading this book was a turning point for me with my firstborn child. I was able to implement some simple routines and practices to help my baby sleep. He was not a fantastic napper immediately; it took a few months. But he was a napper, and that was an improvement! He went to waking only one time a night, and that was a major improvement!
Follow the Eat/Wake/Sleep Cycle
One of the key elements to the Babywise routine is to follow the Eat/Wake/Sleep Cycle. Baby eats, then baby has some awake time playing or doing other things, then baby sleeps. You repeat this all day. Read my post Eat/Wake/Sleep Cycle for more on the purpose of this pattern. This post includes insight from Anne Marie Ezzo, wife to co-author of On Becoming Babywise, Garry Ezzo.
Have a Consistent Morning Wakeup Time and Bedtime
On Becoming Babywise cautions parents to not overlook the importance of a consistent morning wakeup time and bedtime. I can't over-emphasize this point! Do not vary more than 30 minutes. If you want baby waking up at 7:00 each morning, then your thirty minute range is 6:45-7:15 or 7:00-7:30 or 6:50-7:20...etc. Start your day as close to your ideal waketime as often as possible.
Have bedtime at the same time each night. Again, you can have a thirty minute range when needed. If your day gets off, work to get back on track by bedtime. Cluster feed to get feedings in before bedtime if needed. Get baby up from a nap early if needed to keep your bedtime time frame consistent.
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Follow Baby's Sleep Cues
When baby is tired, put baby down for a nap. Your baby will ideally take 1.5-2 hour naps, but some babies will vary outside that range. Your baby might need a 2.5 hour nap. If that is your baby's sleep need, go with it. When baby shows you through sleep cues that he is ready for a nap, get the nap started. Respect those cues and follow them.
Always remember Babywise is parent directed. That is what makes it so amazing! There are guidelines. There are averages. In the end, the parent makes the call and that is okay. It is more than okay, it is what was intended when the method was designed to be "Parent Directed."
Avoid Sleep Props
Avoid sleep props. Work to have your baby capable of falling asleep independently without help from your or anything else. Always look back to the parent directed aspect of Babywise as you consider props. You might have a reflux baby who really just is more comfortable with a pacifier, so you use it. Your baby might have a cold and need to sleep upright for a while. Do it. You might have older children whose normal daily life noises wake baby up from naps. Use a sound machine. So avoid sleep props, but do not be afraid to use them if they are a necessity.
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These five steps can help you get your baby sleeping as well as she can. You will be able to get to know her as an individual and develop the perfect routine for her.
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